Episode 26: How To Get Pet CPR First Aid Certification Online

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella speaks with Cara Armour, Product Manager with ProTrainings a pet cpr and first aid online training program for pet business owners.

In 2003 Cara Armour co-founded Active Paws Inc., in the Boston, MA area. In 2009, Cara won Pet Sitter of the Year. She is decorated in many accolades and even expanded to opening a grooming and holistic pet supply store.

 

Cara Armour

 

Since 2003, Cara has been trained by the American Red Cross as well as several veterinarians in Pet First Aid and CPR. In 2011 she completed an instructor training course and became a certified Pet First Aid and CPR instructor. In 2015 she co-founded an online Pet First Aid academy and now works as a product and marketing manager for ProPetHero, the Pet First Aid and CPR division of ProTrainings.

She is also a volunteer and foster home for The Boxer Rescue Inc, a health conscious breeder of Boxers.

Bella and Cara talk about Pet First Aid and how to go about training you and your staff.

They discuss the benefits of being trained which are:

  • Being able to save the lives of your pets or pet clients.
  • Learning to recognize potential issues with a pet and bring that to the owner’s attention.
  • Being able to use that trained status to attract more clients.

They talk about how an online training course, such as the ones available through ProPetHero are more useful than in-person training because:

  • They are taught by an actual veterinarian using real animals.
  • You can do them at your own pace and anywhere you want.
  • Business owners offering them to their employees can have a dashboard that shows each employee’s progress.
  • You have access to them  for up to two years and can go back and revisit sections as you see fit.

Bella was even able to secure a special discount for “Bella in your Business” fans. You can get 10% off by going to here.
Coupon code: CPR-petsitter

 

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Episode 25: Compassion Fatigue

Holly Cook, author of My End of the Leash

Holly Cook, author of My End of the Leash

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella speaks with Holly Cook, author of My End of the Leash: Compassion Fatigue From a Pet Sitter’s Perspective.

She started pet sitting in 1994, and won the Pet Sitters International,  Pet Sitter of the Year award in 2004;  She has been serving the pet sitting industry by becoming a state Ambassador for PSI in 2005. She has also authored several articles presented at many pet sitting conferences. She has developed donation drives for communities devastated by disaster (From Missouri floods in 1993, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina to Hurricane Sandy.). 

Holly also became a certified Compassion Fatigue Educator through the University of Tennessee School Of  Veterinary Social Work in 2016. To say she is an advocate for the pets and the people who care for them is an understatement. 

Bella and Holly discuss what compassion fatigue is and how it differs from “burn out”  Holly discloses traits common among those susceptible to compassion fatigue including:

  • Being a highly dedicated professional
  • Always expecting positive feedback about work
  • High demand for personal competence
  • A personal history of exhaustion
  • A large workload
  • Lack of trauma training
  • Identification with those in their care
  • Those is a non-supportive work environment or unsupportive friends and family

Holly then details some of the symptoms of compassion fatigue:

  • Bone-tired exhaustionpet sitter compassion fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Persistent physical ailments
  • Apprehension
  • Over exaggerated startle reflex
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Abnormal anger
  • Rumination or excessive thoughts about an incident
  • Clumsiness
  • Nightmares and flashbacks
  • Difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness
  • Tendency to isolate from other people
  • Inability to make a decision
  • Intrusive imagery
  • Reduced ability to feel sympathy or empathy toward other people or animals
  • Denial of any of the above symptoms

Grab her book here: My End of the Leash: Compassion Fatigue From a Pet Sitter’s Perspective

 

If you feel like this might be you, Holly encourages you to take the quiz on her website

Learn more about Holly and her book in a previous article we wrote back in June when her book originally came out.

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Episode 24: Faith-Based Business Networking

In this episode of Bella in Your Business, Bella offers up a recording of talk she gave to a faith-based business networking group in her area. In the talk she discusses approaching networking from a faith-based point of view.

She says that successful networking results from:

  • Listening
  • Caring
  • Taking time to build trust
  • Influence
  • Finding “family” in networking

She offers some quick, but poignant tips:

  • Better to get a card then leave a card
  • Go to a lot of events. Arrive early and leave late
  • Get around people that you like
  • Ask someone out for coffee
  • Don’t be a “promoter” of your company
  • Networking is always about “them” and not you.
  • Don’t be afraid to cast your net or you won’t find those relationships
  • Ask God to be your Holy business partner
  • Shine your light!
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Episode 23: How Do I Know If It Is Legal To Board Dogs In My Home?

 

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According to Kristy, she is the only properly zoned boarding facility in Philadelphia that is operating out of a private home.

And it didn’t come easy.

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business,” Bella speaks with Kristie Glazer from Philly Pet Care,a family-owned pet sitting and dog walking company in Philadelphia. 

In an unprecedented interview, you learn what it is like when the Zoning Board is knocking on your door telling you to stop your business or they will fine you and board up your home.

You will also learn how you can take the proper steps in being able to operate your dog boarding business legally in your own home.

Kristie talks about the struggles she went through with the boarding aspect of her business and the complicated steps it took to move it from being shut down by the city, to now being the only zoned boarding facility in Philadelphia that is operating out of a private home.

 

 

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There is great strength and success in this podcast if you are thinking about doing dog boarding in your home. Through a difficult struggle and long process, Kristie was able to get her city to back her business. Unfortunately, Kristie only represents about 1% of in home dog boarders I know about. Many, do not know their city ordinances or know what permit they need to operate legally. Some, choose to ignore and pretend they don’t know they need permits or proper zoning.

It is troublesome because some pet sitters use in home dog boarding as their livelihood. If your business is shut down, because you are operating illegally, your income stops. This could have a grave effect on their life. It is a topic to think seriously about and take into proper consideration.

2:00 – Kristie’s story
7:38 – What made Kristie decide to fight to keep her business
9:24 – How Kristie got her neighbors support
14:35 – What to do if you want to board dogs in your home
15:42 – Fines or penalties for illegal boarding?
16:36 – Where do people go to start boarding legally?
20:12 – Importance of having a strong team
21:40 – Final words of advice

You can find out more about Philly Pet Care and Kristie and her husband Dave athttp://www.MyPhillyPetCare.com.

 

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Episode 22: How To Get More PR For Your Pet Business

Susie Timm, President of Knife & Fork Media Group

Susie Timm, President of Knife & Fork Media Group

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella spends time with Susie Timm,  President of Knife & Fork Media Group. Susie specializes in comprehensive public relations and marketing strategy in the gourmet food, restaurant and retail industries.

Gaining PR for your pet business can be wildly useful during the upcoming holidays, but if you get copies, you can also use it on your website and social media for months to come!

Bella and Susie discuss:

  • The importance of having a marketing and PR plan.
  • Creating interesting and useful event-based PR that then drive traffic and interest in your business.
  • How the “soft sell” approach works best when trying to get to exposure in mass media.
  • Some great ways to get yourself promoted on mass media.
  • Positioning yourself as an expert.
  • How great content drives traffic to your website.

You can find more information about Knife & Fork Media Group at KnifeAndForkMedia.com.

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Episode 21: How One Pet Lover Took Her Passion For Pets and United An Entire State with Woofalong

Darcy Graham, creator of WOOFALONG.COM

Darcy Graham, creator of WOOFALONG.COM

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella talks with Darcy Graham,  creator of WOOFALONG.com. The site, which shows you the dog-friendly restaurants, stores, parks, trails and events in Colorado, was launched earlier this year and is already looking to expand.

Bella and Darcy discuss:

  • The frustration that was the impetus for the site.
  • How Darcy compiled the list of locations.
  • What types of publicity Darcy has managed to get for the site already and how she did it.
  • The engagements her site has gathered so far and how she has gotten it to grow.
  • Her extensive use of social media.
  • What she has planned for the upcoming version 2 of the site.
  • The plans for expansion to other cities.
  • The potential opportunities on WOOFALONG.COM for business owners.

You can find more information about WOOFALONG.COM at, where else, http://www.woofalong.com.

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Katrina Kadyszewski

Episode 20: Interview with a Small Business State Auditor

Katrina KadyszewskiIn this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella talks with Katrina Kadyszewski, a former state auditor with the State of Connecticut.  

Katrina has over 16 years experience working in a variety of financial positions. She started in the brokerage industry with a Series 7, 63 and 65 and life and health license, and then transitioned to audit work for the CT Department of Revenue Services before leaving to support small businesses in their efforts to get organized for expansion.

Katrina spent 3 of her almost 8 years with the CT Dept. of Revenue Services in the Business & Employment Tax Audit Unit, focused primarily on payroll tax issues. The last 5 years she worked as a Corporation Tax auditor, traveling across the US auditing largely Fortune 500 companies.

Bella and Katrina first discuss a big controversy in the pet sitting industry which is misclassification of employees as either independent contractors or employees.  Katrina outlines some key indicators that auditors look for in making that determination:

  • Is there an actual contract between you and the contractor?
  • Are your payments to them regular in nature?
  • How much control do you have over them with regards to work hours, uniform, training, etc.?
  • Do they offer the same services to other companies through their own business?
  • Are you providing them all the tools, training and supplies they need?
  • Basically, consider how loose is the relationship?

They also discuss why they think business owners are so apprehensive about audits, what documents a business owner should have at their disposal if they are being audited, and whether business owners should take their lawyer and accountant to the  audit. Katrina also gives some insight into what triggers an audit.

Some resources they discuss are the IRS’s  20-factor test to help you determine employee or independent contractor, and amnesty programs that exist to help encourage to make the right switch.

Have you ever been audited? Want to hear about pet sitters who have been audited? I have interviewed a handful and reported about it all here.

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Episode 19: A Look Back at How A Pet Sitting Business Started & Grew with Kristie Glazer

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In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella talks with Kristie Glazer from Philly Pet Care, a family-owned pet-sitting and dog-walking company in Philadelphia. Kristie talks about how she got started and what changes she made that really helped her business grow.

After graduating college, Kristie and her husband moved to Philadelphia which is near where she grew up in South Jersey.  She was a teacher for a little while and then a sales rep for a shipping company. But she wasn’t happy.  She sat down and thought about what would make her happy….the answer….dogs!  She figured she lived in a city now and people probably needed dog walkers. Before her husband got home that day from his job as a chef, she had a full business plan worked out.  She told him she planned to quit her job and start this business. He told her to go ahead and do it!

{Don’t you just love that?}

So Kristie did it. She started a website. She started cold calling and giving people her card.  She would take any job that came along (which she says in retrospect is a mistake many new business owners make). She did start  to grow the business though, which at the time was called “Personal Pet Care by Kristie”, and continued on for four years adding clients as she went.

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Bella notes that having that moral support from our loved ones really can help catapult our businesses from the start. Maybe not necessarily our business numbers, but it certainly helps us with our tenacity.

Kristie continued by saying that when she first started the business, the ironic thing was that they lived in an apartment where they could not even have pets. So they naturally had to refuse requests for overnights or doggie daycare.  But they eventually moved to a place where they could have pets and started offering both of those services.The business got so busy that they moved to their own home and Dave quit his job as a chef and joined the business!

Kristie said they had some major bumps in the road along the way. In fact, she wishes in retrospect that they had had a “team” (lawyers and accountants) early on as it may have helped them avoid some of the roughest bumps.

One bump, she points out, was a failure to secure all the licenses needed to board dogs in their home. It led to a neighbor calling Licensing and Inspections on them resulting in them having to cease doing the boarding for two years while they worked out all the necessary issues (including getting their home zoned to be a kennel).  

Kristie talked about a point in time when they were working constantly in the business. It was just her and Dave and trying to juggle the business and their three year old son got to be too much.  She came across Bella and Jump Consulting and as a result made some changes.  They rebranded to “Philly Pet Care”.  They revamped  their website and added professional photos and higher quality business cards.

They raised their rates, which caused many customers to go away, but with the higher rates they still made that money back. They cut out the doggie daycare which Kristie said drove her nuts anyway. They made those changes four years ago and Kristie said doing all that gave them back their sanity and the business has been humming along smoothly every since.

Bella says what she is hearing is that they now have a clean system and process and that their business works for them and not them working for the business. Bella paints the analogy of the bow and arrow.  She said that, at that time, Kristie and Dave were like a bow that needs to get pulled back a little bit so that it can get released and send that arrow soaring forward. But notes that it really stinks when you are going through it.

Kristie agreed. She says it is difficult and a lot of work but it is so worth it in the end. She notes that you have to grow though, because if you don’t grow your business will fail.

Bella then asks Kristie about the future of Philly Pet Care.

Kristie says they are still doing the dog walking services in Center City (Philadelphia). They do still do overnights, but only for dogs they have a walking relationship with.  Dave and she hope to remove themselves more and more from the business. Not remove themselves completely because she and Dave like to make sure they personally know each and every client. In fact, she believes that is what really helps set them apart. They have two employees now but hope to have more in the future so they can have more time off.

Kristie also said they are starting to plan for retirement. They are at a point with their business where they are making enough money to really start saving for the future. So that, maybe in 10 years or so, they could be in some form of retirement. But she notes that she doesn’t really see herself ever completely letting go or selling the business.  She has even pictured their son ultimately being the owner of Philly Pet Care.

Bella compares a successful small business to having built your own beautiful home.  You can live in it until the day you die. You build yourself a quality life with the luxury of having options.

Bella wraps the episode by telling  Kristie how proud she is of everything Kristie and Dave have accomplished.

You can find out more about Philly Pet Care and Kristie and Dave at http://www.MyPhillyPetCare.com or to hear about the rebranding experience Kristie had with Bella a few years ago, you can watch the video here.

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Episode 18: How to Get More Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Clients

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In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella is joined once again by Kate McQuillan from PawsomeMedia. They discuss the timeless question they always get, “How do I get more pet sitting and dog walking clients?”

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List All The Services You Offer On Your Website:


In order to get more pet sitting and dog walking clients, Bella notes that people search for many different terms. For instance, she says that  if you are dog groomer and you want to groom small dogs or even cats, make sure you list that. Someone looking to get a cat groomed likely won’t search for a dog groomer first. Make sure you are putting all the services you offer, along with descriptions, on your website. Kate notes you should really review your website periodically and make sure what you want out there is very clear.

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Promote Yourself On Facebook:

Kate mentions that people often get caught up sharing pet pics, memes and news, but should not forget to put out something everyday about what you do. Images, articles you have written and tips are all good ways to do that. Also, make sure you have filled out all the about sections in Facebook, especially the contact information. Also make  sure your banner clearly says what you do. Facebook pages get Googled and so having all of that information in there may actually help you show up more often in Google searches. For those who feel such promotion is too “salesy” Bella recommends you check out “Gary V” (Gary Vaynerchuk ) who has a book called Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to tell your story in a noisy social world. He writes that it is about giving value, value, value, and then a sale. Bella says it’s ok to keep sharing valuable items, but don’t forget the “right hook”!

 

Blog About What You Do:

 

Bella says to blog and talk about what you do. Discuss things like “How much does dog grooming cost?”, “Should I get my cat groomed?”, “How do I train my dog?”.  She says to take every question people ask you, use the exact question as the title of your blog post, and then answer it. She says it’s not only good for SEO (getting higher placement  in Google results), but also gives you an “arsenal” to use when people call with questions. Ask them for their email address and send them the blog post that answers that question. Kate points out that you also need to SHARE your blog post (see tip #2)! And don’t forget to reshare things you wrote months and years ago.  Keep sharing it for those who may not have seen it the first time. And revisit them periodically to “tidy” them up and make them more current.

 

 

Make Free Downloads For Your Site:

Kate suggests that you offer things on your site like free EBooks you create or checklists (like one on things to do before your next vacation), cleaning tips, etc. It doesn’t always have to be about the services you offer, just things that are useful to your customers.

 

 

Create and use “Bark Cards”

When you are out performing mobile services (grooming, pet sitting, dog walking) and you (dog) hear barking at a neighbor’s house, your worker can leave one of these bark cards. Bark cards are small postcards with a picture of a barking dog you get made up that say “BARK, BARK, BARK, BARK, BARK”. On the back leave the top half blank and on the bottom put your branding, list of services, and contact info. In the blank area, take a pen and write something like. “I think I heard a small dog and they were saying ‘Come groom me! Come groom me!’.  I was in the neighborhood and if you call me for more information I would like to offer you….” Bella says these cards are shocking and attention grabbing. They also target your demographic. Personalization in key with these cards.

 

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Email Marketing:

Kate said to make better use of the email addresses you have collected through newsletter sign ups, or people opting in to your free downloads. Send information periodically to ensure people remember who you are and what you offer.  Bella suggests it could be a “drip campaign” where you have a series of say 5 emails go out over a period of time or it could be a short periodic newsletter.  Kate notes that email is important because not everybody is on Facebook or checking out your website, but they may likely be checking email.

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Talk To Vets

Bella says a lot of pet business owners just walk into a vet’s office, drop their cards and leave.  More than likely the cards get dropped in the trash. So Bella recommends that you build a relationship with the vet’s office manager. People rarely ask the vet about pet sitting or grooming services, but they do ask the front office staff or call in with that kind of question.

 

 

Start A Facebook Group:

Kate says that you start a private Facebook group not to sell services but to allow customers and members of the group to get to know you personally.  Members get to know each other, build relationships, talk about pets, etc., and build a good community.

 

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Start A Dog Walking Club!

Bella says that by starting these clubs you will have a micro area of people all interested in the same thing. Do it with your existing customers to build up brand loyalty or expose them to other services you offer. You can encourage them to bring a friend. You could start one at an apartment complex and have the complex promote the club as an activity. Kate suggests you could combine that with the private Facebook group as well.

 

 

Create Competition

 

Kate recommends that you create competition events as they are a good way to get new clients. But do it right! Don’t just do a like and share campaign. Really plan it out.  Kate has more information about doing so in her online marketing academy which Bella says is awesome!

 

Listen To The Full Podcast Below and Don’t Forget To Subscribe!

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Episode 17: Should Pet Sitters Still Offer Overnights If They Have To Pay Per Hour?

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella discusses whether you should still offer overnights if you have to pay per hour? This is a hot topic because during this election year many are talking about raising the minimum wage, in some places as high as $15/hour.  In California, not only is the minimum wage being raised but they are mandating sick days and other things which are really going to cost businesses more and more money.

 

Education is Key to This Decision!

Bella emphasizes that you really need to educate yourself on the legislation in your particular state, what risk that implies for your  business, and what it will cost your business to comply. She says she really wants you to focus on the right team members (bookkeeper, CPA, lawyer) and to reach out to your state’s Department of Labor. Learn as much as you can and then make your own educated decision. Don’t listen to everyone on Facebook or your competitors!  Just because someone else elects to take one action doesn’t mean it’s the right one.

So, should you still offer overnights?  The easy answer for some will be no because they figure if they have to pay someone $15/hour for 8-10 hours, they would have to charge at least $200 for an overnight and they believe their clients would never pay that.  Bella points out, that could mean you are automatically giving up (what is on average) 20% of your revenue. In short, she recommends that you still offer overnights even if you have to pay per hour.

Put it on your website (with or without the price) and make sure you price it according to the 30/30/40 rule (30% for the business, 30% for you, and 40% for wages). Just be aware of what happens when you get to 40 hours (another great question to ask your state’s Department of Labor).

Remember, you don’t get to decide what is too expensive. Your clients do.  If a client does tell you it is too much, simply explain why it is that high.  Then offer them a less expensive alternative like 3 visits a day.  Let them know that it will probably be alright but if they feel that still isn’t enough then they could try the overnight option.

 

How To Sell Overnights:

Bella points out that if you don’t at least offer the option then visitors coming to your site looking for that option will “bounce” over to another service’s site.  Leave it on there. Keep them on your site. Engage them in a conversation giving them the reasoning and statistics and let them make the decision.

Another question to ask your state’s Department of Labor is whether or not you are exempt from the minimum wage due to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which states that people who make less than $500,000 don’t have to adhere to it.

Add More Value:

You could also consider additional value for these overnights like perhaps sending video and photos. You might include things like taking out the trash and/or sorting the mail. Add value to the overnights and make them exclusive benefits. Any of these additional values can help make a client feel better about spending the money.

Bella points out that in reality most pets are perfectly fine sleeping by themselves and that the real benefit offered in overnights is making the client feel less guilty about leaving their precious pet.  So let’s appeal to them and keep offering this service. Because if you don’t you have no idea just how much money you might be leaving on the table and walking away.

 

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